I've long been interested in the lives of people living in the confines of North Korea. While information is fairly limited, in recent times more and...moreI've long been interested in the lives of people living in the confines of North Korea. While information is fairly limited, in recent times more and more has come to the awareness of the public as individuals bravely tell their stories and surveillance and satellite images become allies in confirming and documenting what is happening in North Korea.
Unlike other books on North Korea (memoirs) that I've read, this one is told from 2 perspectives: that of Shin (the man who escaped), and the author who wrote and told his story. This provides a great perspective because the author helps clarify and really outline the struggle North Koreans' have in assimilating to life outside of North Korea. I also appreciate his frustrations in trying to deal with an escapee, because many people might assume that once out of North Korea, these people can just "get on with their lives" problem free. Clearly, it is a life long process and these people are often traumatized and confused as their feelings (which they are taught to suppress) finally surface.
Shin in one of only two known escapees from labor camps in North Korea, which is an astounding feat. This book tells his life story (from his memory) along with some fact based evidence added by Blaine Harden (author) of his life born into a N.Korean labor camp, to his escape and life after living outside of North Korea.
The chapters are well written, and make an impact. The culture of North Korea is well explained (caste system, rules, blood lines and how one can be considered guilty even if they did nothing wrong by virtue of being related to someone considered an "enemy"of the state, the lives in labor camps, and the conditions people live in).
This was an incredible book: rich with history, insight, and memorable characters and their stories. The amount of research that went into this book i...moreThis was an incredible book: rich with history, insight, and memorable characters and their stories. The amount of research that went into this book is evident from the first chapter. I loved reading about the culture and history of N.Korea, as well as following the 6 stories on the individuals she had running throughout. Very relevant and fascinating subject. I recommend this to anyone interested in culture, foreign affairs, international relations, human rights, humanity, history, love, sorrow, and the stories about simple people and their lives. I often had to stop and remind myself that she wasn't talking about the early 1930-1950's, she was often referring to the 1990 and 2000+, i.e present-day. I have been fascinated with North Korea for as long as I can remember; there is such mystery surrounding it, and yet so many rumors, stories, and interest. I hope the people of N.Korea keep moving forward, and I hope people like Barbara Demick keep writing important books like this--striving to speak truth--and giving a voice to those who do not have it.(less)